Rent-a-Robot and Our Tight Labor Market

Rent-a-Robot and Our Tight Labor Market

Born from a chance encounter between a robotics tinkerer and an Isaac Asimov-inspired engineer-turned-entrepreneur , the Unimate —a single-armed, vacuum tube-driven robot—was put to work on the assembly lines of the General Motors plant in Ewing, New Jersey in 1961. It was a watershed moment for industrial robotics and the first sign of changes that would rewrite the rules for automation, employment, and trade.

Following that first Unimate, industrial robotics progressed in fits and starts thanks to the complicated dynamics of human labor costs, innovations in non-robotic automation, and advances in robotic control technology. While the economic and energy crises […]

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